The Procreate app is a powerful tool for artists of all levels. The app allows you to create beautiful artwork just like you would with physical media, but it also includes some tools to make adjustments and tweaks to your artwork.
That’s one of the great things about creating digital art.
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to change opacity in Procreate. Changing opacity is an easy way to adjust your colors and layers to make them work together well.
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What is Opacity in Procreate?
Opacity is the amount of transparency or translucency in an image. In other words, it’s the amount that you can see through the layer to see what’s behind it.
If you’ve ever wished you could make a part of your art fade a bit into the background, then you will love using the opacity feature in Procreate.
A common use of the opacity tool is to start your drawing with a sketch, then lower the opacity of that sketch layer so that you can see it while inking without it being too dark and interfering with your line drawing.
Other things you might want to change the opacity of a layer for are things like:
- Chaning the opacity of a shadow to make it softer
- Adding some texture to your artwork (but not THAT much texture)
- Lower the opacity of a background color so that your text will stand out. (Hint: you can only do this on a regular layer, not on the background layer where you can change the background color).
You can see how useful the opacity tool is. I use this all the time!
Following are some different ways you can change opacity in Procreate:
How to Change Opacity in Procreate Layers Panel (Layer Opacity)
When changing opacity, you’ll mostly be working within layers. See my blog post on using layers in Procreate for more information on how to use layers in Procreate.
Since you typically will be working with opacity within layers, it is called layer opacity.
One thing to keep in mind is that you can only change the opacity of one layer at a time. You can’t select multiple layers at once to change the opacity on all of your layers.
There are two ways you can change layer opacity.
I created a quick video that goes over how to adjust opacity in Procreate.
The first way to change the opacity of a layer in Procreate is:
1. Open your layers menu by clicking the layers icon at the top of the screen.
2. Select the layer you would like to change the opacity of.
3. Tap on the “N” on the selected layer to open the blend modes menu. Opacity acts similar to a blending mode since it “blends” with the other layers when used. For example, when you lower the opacity of your layer, you’ll be able to see the parts of your drawing that are behind it.
4. Use the opacity slider at the top of the menu that pops up to increase or decrease the opacity of your layer.
5. All done.
That was simple, hey?
Well, there’s also a simple shortcut to help you change opacity in Procreate.
How to Change Layer Opacity in Procreate Layers Menu Shortcut
There is a shortcut for changing layer opacity. Here is how you do it.
1. Open your layers panel (in the top-right corner).
2. Touch the layer you want to change the opacity of with two fingers.
3. A blue bar will show up at the top of your screen along with the opacity value in a percentage.
4. Using either your Apple Pencil or your finger, drag on the screen to the left if you want to make your layer transparent, or to the right if you want to make it opaque.
5. To commit to your selected opacity level, touch the magic wand tool to deselect it.
Changing the Opacity of Several Layers in Procreate
You can’t select multiple layers in Procreate to change the opacity of all of them at the same time. Technically at least.
What you can do is merge the layers you want to change so that they are on the same layer.
This can be especially useful if you’re working with a lot of layers and don’t want to do each one individually.
1. Group the layers you want to change the opacity of by selecting each of those layers (swiping them toward the right so they turn blue) and then selecting “group” at the top of the layers panel.
2. Optional but recommended: Duplicate the group by swiping left on the layer that says “new group” and select duplicate. Then turn off one of the groups by unchecking the check box next to the words “new group.”
(I always save the original group by turning it off in this way in case I want to go back to it. This lets me adjust each original layer if I want to).
3. On the group you want to work with, click on the words “new group” to see the settings of the layer and then select flatten. You’ve now made all of the layers into one.
4. Change your layer opacity as described above (either by clicking on the N or by touching the layer with 2 fingers).
5. If it seems like it isn’t doing anything, go double check to make sure that you unchecked the box on the other group 😉 If the other group is still showing, you won’t be able to see the layer fade since the duplicate layer is not transparent.
How to Change the Opacity in Part of a Layer in Procreate
Though you’ll usually be working with an entire layer in Procreate when changing opacity, there are times when you only want to work with part of a layer.
The way you would do this is by using the selection tool.
Select the layer that has the part of your digital drawing that you’d like to make more or less transparent.
On the upper left-hand menu, select the item that looks like an S or a ribbon. This is the selection tool.
At the bottom of the screen, a new menu will pop up. These are the types of selections you can make.
For this purpose, I like to use the freehand selection tool.
Once you select the freehand selection tool, you can draw a selection around the item you want to change the opacity of with your Apple Pencil.
Tap the little dot on the selection line to close the selection.
Then copy and paste that part of the layer onto a new layer either by selecting “copy & paste” in the bottom menu on the screen or by swiping down on your screen with three fingers and selecting copy & paste.
When you copy and paste something, it puts it on a separate layer.
Once it’s on it’s own layer you can change the opacity of that part of your drawing.
Then you can merge the layers back together if you wish to do so.
How to Change the Opacity of an Entire Drawing in Procreate
To change the opacity of an entire piece of artwork in Procreate, you will want to flatten your art into one layer.
Follow the instructions I gave you for changing the opacity of several layers in Procreate.
Changing the Opacity in Procreate Brushes With Opacity Sliders
Another thing you can do when you want something to be transparent is to change the opacity level of the brush you’re using in Procreate.
You can change the opacity of a brush on the side of the screen on the lower slider menu. The top slider is for changing your brush size, and the bottom one is to change the opacity of your individual brush.
In Procreate 5.2 you can even save your favorite opacity levels for each brush!
The opacity slider works for brushes, the smudge tool, and the eraser. I find it especially handy when using the smudge tool since it leads to a more natural blend.
How to Change The Opacity of a Brush
In addition to using the opacity sliders to change the opacity of the brush tool you’re using, you can also change the brush settings of an individual brush to create a brush with more or less opacity.
Let’s say you want to create a transparent version of the monoline brush.
Open your brush library and find the monoline brush in the calligraphy brush set.
I suggest duplicating the brush by swiping to the left and choosing duplicate. You always want to keep the original version in case you want to go back to it.
Select the duplicate version you made. It will have a 1 after it.
Touch the brush again to open up the brush studio. This is where you can change the settings of a brush.
There are multiple brush settings that allow you to change the opacity of your brush, from changing opacity based on pressure or speed, to changing the overall opacity of the brush. I will only discuss the latter in this post.
To change the minimum or maximum level of opacity that a brush can reach, go into the properties menu to adjust the opacity level. This will create a brush that has a certain range of opacity.
So there you have it! You now know how to change opacity in Procreate! Enjoy